We all have seen or heard about this (below-mentioned) hoarding, right? Caveat Emptor holds a special place in the consumer world. Consumers need to be aware of their own rights. But what do we do when shopkeepers charge us more than the specified Maximum Retail Price (MRP)? How to tackle the situation?
Maximum Retail Price is the highest price at which the product can be sold in India, which is inclusive of the cost of production, transportation, middlemen profit and also all applicable taxes. Retailers and Shopkeepers can take the liberty of discounting on the MRP and sell it in order to attract customers. But, extending beyond that of the MRP can be stated as illegal. And surprisingly, such illegality has arisen to another level now-a-days.
Complaint of the rampant illegality
Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum remains a strict platform for filing complaints of such practices. A complaint may be registered in writing under the following circumstances:
- Loss/ damage caused to the consumer due to unfair or restrictive trade practice of a trader or service provider.
- The trader or service provider charged for the goods / service the price in excess of the stated price.
- Defective product purchased unknowingly.
- The services availed of by a consumer suffer from deficiency.
Who is entitled to file a complaint?
- Any consumer
- Legal heir or representative.
- Any association concerned with Consumer rights (voluntarily)
- Central Government / State Government;
- A PIL, where numerous consumers have the same interest
Forums, where complaints can be registered
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides for the authorization of filing a complaint in case a consumer is even slightly aggrieved. The lowest forum remains that of the District Forum. Appealing against its decision would require us to knock the doors of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Further, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission can either upheld or quash the State Forum’s order. The Supreme remains the highest authority in this hierarchy.
|DISTRICT CONSUMER DISPUTE REDRESSAL COMMISSION|
|NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTE REDRESSAL COMMISSION|
|STATE CONSUMER DISPUTE REDRESSAL COMMISSION|
|SUPREME COURT OF INDIA|
- District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF)- If the value of the claim is up to Rs.20 lakh.
- State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC)- If the value of the claim exceeds Rs.20 lakhs but is within Rs.1 Crore.
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) – If the value of the claim exceeds Rs.1 Crore.
Details in the Complaint
There is no need to engage a lawyer. The pleader or the consumer, by himself or through his representative, can file and represent his complaint. The details required to be furnished are:
- Name and complete address of the complainant.
- Name and complete address of the opposite party/parties.
- Date of purchase of goods or services availed.
- Amount paid for the above purpose.
- Particulars of goods purchased with numbers or details of services availed.
- Details of the complaint, whether it is against Unfair Trade Practice/supply of defective goods/deficiency in service provided / collection of excess price, should explicitly be mentioned in the complaint petition.
- Bills/receipts and copies of connected correspondence, if any.
- The relief sought for under this Act.
- The complaint should be signed by the complainant or his authorized agen
Time limit to file a complaint in consumer forum
The time bar has been set for a period of filing the complaint within two years from the date of cause of action. The forum only entertains matters beyond the time frame only if sufficient reasons are proved satisfactorily.
For appealing, one can file an appeal against the lower forum’s order within thirty days from the date of the receipt of orders.
The toll-free number of Consumer Forum is 1800-11-4000 from 9:30 am to 5:30pm (all days, except for National Holidays). Be it a charge of Rs. 1 or Rs. 100, negligently ignoring such situations will provoke such practices more. It’s time for us to be more vigilant.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The 2019 Act welcomes fundamental changes to the existing 1986 legislation. It seeks to formulate a Central Consumer Protection Authority, vesting abundance power, to look over the matters of ‘providing better protection to the interests of consumers’.
A significant addition by the 2019 fraternity is the introduction of ‘PRODUCT LIABILITY’, where sellers/manufacturers are responsible for any defect/harm caused to the consumer. Pricing goods more than the stipulated price is a big nay.
There has been slight change in the pecuniary (monetary) jurisdiction of Redressal Commissions. To reduce the burden on State and National Commissions, there has been substantial increase in the monetary bar to approach the District Commission for complaints valued up to Rs. 1 crore.
The admissibility of complaints made has to decided within 21 days now. It welcomes the idea of judicial review in cases involving substantial question of law.
Over- all, the 2019 piece of legislation is a positive incentive towards transforming our market into an informed and protected, consumer-friendly environment. Our merchandise is changing dynamically, so should we!
“The views of the authors are personal“